Eunsoo Won and Yong-Ku Kim *

Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul 02841, Korea;
* Correspondence:; Tel.: +82-31-412-5140; Fax: +82-31-412-5144
Received: 28 October 2017; Accepted: 7 December 2017; Published: 11 December 2017

Abstract: Lithium has been used for the treatment of bipolar disorder (BD) for the last sixty or more years, and recent studies with more reliable designs and updated guidelines have recommended lithium to be the treatment of choice for acute manic, mixed and depressive episodes of BD, along with long-term prophylaxis. Lithium’s specific mechanism of action in mood regulation is progressively being clarified, such as the direct inhibition on glycogen synthase kinase 3β, and its various effects on neurotrophic factors, neurotransmitters, oxidative metabolism, apoptosis, second messenger systems, and biological systems are also being revealed. Furthermore, lithium has been proposed to exert its treatment effects through mechanisms associated with neuronal plasticity. In this review, we have overviewed the clinical aspects of lithium use for BD, and have focused on the neuroprotective and neurotrophic effects of lithium.

lithium; bipolar disorder; therapeutic mechanism